Some Assembly Required: 1961 MGA 1600

Motorheads born in the era of this 1961 MGA 1600 will probably admit to having the best Erector Set in their neighborhood, even accumulating all the sets of the non-mechanically inclined kids. This MGA is an ultimate Erector Set challenge, the unfulfilled dream build of this woman’s recently passed mother.  The challenge awaits for the price of $15,500 in Napa, California according to the ad, which you can view here on craigslist.

The MGA evolved from a 1951 Syd Enever design of a Le Mans car built for George Philips.  The beautifully articulated fenders and running boards were eliminated, Enever bringing the wheels inside the body envelope.  From 1959 through 1961, 31,501 of the MGAs were produced with a variety of component configurations.  Our subject car was equipped with a 1588 cc in-line four-cylinder engine producing 79 horsepower, left-hand drive, four-speed transmission, front disc, rear drum brakes, and stamped steel wheels with hubcaps (“I Spy” the box of hubcaps in the next photo).  Reminder: MGAs have no exterior door handles for that clean, shaved look. The car originally sold new in the $2,450 range;  J. D. Power now prices 1961 MGAs from a low retail of $17,100 to $50,300 high retail for a specimen in excellent running and appearance conditions.  No price provided by J.D. Power for boxes-o-parts.

Yet, as the saying goes, parts are parts, and there are plenty of boxes to rummage, three photos full in the posting. Paint is also included in the sale (color not specified). In case the viewer desires to build a Concours-quality car, it’s not clear whether the accumulated parts are original stock, new old stock, or remakes. It is also unclear if the motor/trans/rear end is original and matching numbers.  BTW, tennis balls at the back of this shot are not included.

It looks like this MGA’s body is clean and straight, ready for a quick detail, sand, and final priming.  The interior of the MGA is a tight fit for a hockey defenseman or an offensive lineman, but if rowing through the gears with your hand on that classic wheel listening to the little four-banger giving its all with your bottom just inches off the ground and the wind blasting through your hair (sorry bald guys) is the promised land, then this Erector Set MGA maybe your mid-life crisis fulfillment project waiting for the “Oh yeah, baby!”

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Comments

  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Welcome Mike! From another Mike. I do not follow these a whole lot. A quick search brought up a nice one for $22,900. I know the route I would take. I hope to see a comment from someone who does follow the A. Bob Hess? I would like one in time. Welcome to the club, take care, Mike.

    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Thanks for the kind words, Mike. Seems like this week in particular has flushed a bushel of products for sale from Abingdon-on-Thames.

      Hope to communicate with you often on cars that–I am thinking this is the wrong word–matter. I was also thinking this particular MG had promise and it mattered.

      Like 1
      • bry593

        I’m impressed that the girl/lady in the pic is careful not to put her greasy, pointy elbows on the sanded, thin metal fenders.

  2. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    Seems prettty pricey to me. In the late 70s, I bought a 1959 from a co-worker for $500. Sold it 2 years later after remediating it (new top, wiring harness, rebuilt carbs, head work, carpets, some body work and new paint). It had wire wheels and ran well. Got $2500 and considered myself lucky. A while ago, but I don’t see a lot of upside to this instance car at the asking price with the all the work needed and the price of a serious paint job.

    Like 7
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      I’ll bet you wish it magically appeared on your front lawn for $2,500 today. . .so, brings up a few thoughts: I would be doing back handsprings down the lane if I could get 5x on a project I completed. . .unless you spent $2k on parts and repairs you couldn’t do, that is an impressive haul! Nice work, may I have another one of those, please?

      Free market car pricing is a mystery to me and I hope someone watching can explain it more fully to me. Isn’t it funny how certain cars command big sums–let’s take a Corvette, for example vs. this MG, when a similar car that does pretty much the a roadster thrill and may impress your friend or your date can fetch such disparate amounts of money?

      Interest in the MG is nowhere near the interest in the same year Corvette and the values correspond to that interest and demand–even though there are far fewer MGs than Corvettes.

      It’s been a few decades since I sat through Economics classes, and maybe it’s time for a refresh as my mental acuities on the car market may similarly be in many little boxes, disjointed, and are ready for a reassembly, a little light sand and some primer.

      Like 1
      • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

        I probably was into it for $1500 total. I did all the prep work for the paint job and had a one-man body shop guy shoot it for $400. Other than top, harness, carb kits and paint, and head gasket kit in parts, the only other expense was for a machine shop in Greensboro to weld the crack in the iron head. I did everything else. I may have also rebuilt the brakes. I made money if you don’t count my labor (I don’t…you usually have to buy a ticket to have fun).

        Like 1
    • TouringFordor

      So 45 years ago it sold for $2500, which is $12,000 in today’s money. 50 years ago I bought an Anglia for $10 and a floor jack. Rebuilt and did some minor tweaks to the engine, and sold it 4 years later for $100. I wouldn’t expect to do that today. A car, or bits of one, are worth what someone is willing to pay. Maybe they will get lucky and find a buyer that has the cash and is looking for a project.

  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Good morning leiniedude. Aside from the going in price too high for the work that has to be done on this car this is a great candidate for a restoration. Still the old body on frame car but the looks and the handling on the road make these cars fun to own. Rust free isn’t something that comes with these cars very often so it’s nice to see one in good basic condition. Auction prices are going up so restoring this one would be worth it. You won’t get rich selling this car but you will have a blast driving it. Pretty straight forward design and easy to work on. Last customer car we did took a little extra time to road test the paint.

    Like 2
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Thanks Bob, I have all winter to look, a nice driver for now.

  4. Kenneth Carney

    Hi guys! This one reminds me of the 1/32 model kit that Monogram Models
    offered in the early ’60s. I won such a kit as a prize in school for what I can’t
    recall now. After I built it, I took it to
    school to show my teacher how well it
    turned out. And when you say Erector’s
    Set, you weren’t kidding! Seemed like the average MG owner was fixing something at least once a week. That’s
    why I only buy American when I can.

  5. stan escher

    Seems like an awful expensive asking price considering work needed and value of car when finished.

  6. Stephen Coe

    CA dreaming interior is gonna be 6k correctly done paint 7-8k other stuff amother 2-3k and wiring & brakes & all the shocks and other stuff easy 20 k, but it CA so all bets are off in Layla land

    Like 2
  7. Rodney - GSM

    The woman in the photo appears to be praying, “Please Lord, get this out of here”. At this price, it will take some divine intervention.

    Like 4
  8. tiger66

    Owned 2 of them but that was a long time ago when these were just sub-$1,000 used cars. This one seems much too pricey for a project when you can still find ready-to-use examples in the low 20s retail (1500s anyway). MGAs are hot at the moment but these days you get so much more for your money by going with something modern but still analog. S2000 comes to mind. Sacrilegious, I know.

  9. Christopher Gentry

    In 1984 , my father had a MGA coupe , also disabled , sold it for a down payment on a house , think he got a grand for it. I know it’s been 36 years. But DANG , that’s some inflation. Still one of the most gorgeous “affordable ” sports cars made.

  10. Steve

    It is way over priced ,yet from the photos it is a good one for the build…..I personally have gone through 4 MGB ,and 4 MGA, 1 TF, and the guy that put the quotes in for work in comments is dead on….a years worth of work if you are doing it yourself, the body will have to come off the frame if the underside has not been color painted…..not for the faint of heart.. but as said in Cal, it is layla land but the price is over the top.. throw another $25000.and you will have a nice car .go buy a runner that someone has already put that much into the ride..

  11. Gary

    Nice project for a shop with MG/Brit experience, but for a guy in a garage (like me), it would be a challenge and a likely candidate for a stalled restoration. It is tempting though to start with one like this, providing the passion could be sustained over what is likely to be years before it sees the road.

    Like 1

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